March 21, 2008

Crucify My Love


I'm in a restless mood. It's very frustrating when you want someone to leave you alone and they just refuse. I am being stalked. The best part is that my stalkers hate me! I thought stalkers were always in love with their victims (or at least thought they were "cool"), but I am proof that people could hate you, you could hate them, but they won't leave you alone. It doesn't make sense to me either. Leave it to me to be/find the exception. I need my own Lifetime movie. I can't imagine who would play me, but I'd throw a vote out for Gillian Anderson.

As a side note, people used to tell me all the time that I looked like Gillian Anderson (from The X-Files). She's the only one I've ever been compared to, now that I think of it.

Anyway, today is Good Friday. I'm not sure exactly what that means in the religious sense (and I don't care, so spare me any explanations, please), but as a kid it just meant that you couldn't eat meat. (My parents carried remnants of Catholicism long after leaving the church, sadly enough.) Since I don't fast now, Good Friday is just a day when my husband and I could go for lunch since he has the day off...and I could enjoy a turkey burger. I've always identified with the food aspect (or lack of) most holidays. This Sunday is the Holy Grail (pun intended) of holidays because it's all about chocolate, candy, and basic sugary confections. (I carry remnants of an excited child on Easter morning since never belonging to the church, gratefully enough.)

Oh, and how would my movie starring Gillian Anderson end if my weird, fucked-up stalkers wrote the ending? Why, she'd be crucified, of course! They'd want nothing less.

Enjoy your chocolate bunnies.

March 11, 2008

Will Work for Food

Yesterday I finally accomplished a goal that I set a while back. I received a birthday card in January with five dollars in it, compliments of someone who, at her last opportunity, greatly offended me. She obviously doesn't realize I don't want anything from her--the simplest thing being contact of any kind. But instead of throwing the card away (which I would normally do), I decided to give the money to someone who needs it. I also decided to give away
all the money I have received (or will receive) from the many people who never liked me but instead thought they were obligated to give it to me. Giving the money away turns their insincere gestures into something of meaning for me. So yesterday I finally saw the local homeless man who holds a sign that reads: "Homeless--Will work for food" and I handed him a $5 bill.

"Thank you. God bless you!" he said as I handed it to him.

"You too!" I said, smiling.

I wondered how he could still believe in God in his position. Maybe it comforts him. The mere fact that he would wish a simple blessing on me although he is the one who needs divine help was very touching. He's forced to stand on the side of the road with a crude, handmade sign asking for help. Nearby are houses selling for nearly $400,000. Nearby are eateries and stores selling things no one really needs. People go in and eat, shop, and enjoy without giving that homeless man a second thought. Nearby is my humble abode and as I arrived home, I looked at its bricks and roof and felt grateful that I had a home. It's filled with a lot of things I probably don't need, but I also have a home filled with people I love and who love me. That's the fortunate part.

I think the saddest thing about the homeless man is that no one seems to love him. No one is waiting for him somewhere--anywhere--and he has nowhere to look forward to going for comfort, support, and love. He is just surviving. How does someone get to that point where they have no one left in their life who care enough to help?

Sometimes I think that his life may be richer in one way: he is not on the vicious cycle of spending and consuming. He has many worse worries than I do, don't get me wrong, but he may appreciate life much more than any of us with possessions ever could. It's so easy to forget that he once had a mother. He had a home. He had a name. Now he's the homeless. We've assigned him a title, we've gotten used to it, and we don't think about it anymore. Like so many things in this country, we've taken away the negative association by pure association. I'm sure the money spent on the war could assist not only the helpless ones in the country but throughout the world.

I know $5 is not life-changing. I would have given him more, but I didn't have anything else on me. I plan on giving much more. I like to think the $5 might have helped him. Maybe it just gave him a few minutes of hope. I don't give a damn what he did with the money, as long as he felt like a person again for a little while.

March 09, 2008

When Irish Eyes are the Easter Bunny

I hate the fact that Easter is so close to St. Patrick's Day this year. It certainly makes for a decorating conundrum. Less than a week separate the two holidays. And I love the Irish holiday (my great-grandparents are from County Cork, lads and lasses) but I also look forward to my kitchy egg decorations, too. When do I ditch my shamrocks for my eggs? Sure, I could wait until after St. Patrick's Day, but that doesn't leave much time for Easter decorations. Yes, I'm in quite a pickle. Easter decorations are some of my favorites from all year. I love Spring for its bright colors and the beginning of a new year. The winter seems so desolate, but Spring is the awakening. This year is going to be especially fun because of Katie, too. Can you tell I'm excited?

Yesterday we went to the mall and Katie stumbled upon the Easter bunny. I've never been very big on the Bunny, probably because I've always been very distrustful of people in costumes. We didn't expect Kate to actually like the suited-up rabbit, but she spot the Bunny and started to wave. Then she started walking over to the Bunny, saying "hi" and smiling.

If this sounds familiar to the Santa story, that's because it is familiar. She must enjoy waving at holiday icons.

Now I could honestly think of a lot of ways to spend $13.95 and buying a cheap 5x7 photo of a minuscule speck that could be deciphered as my child is not one of them. But I was willing to buy it. Fortunately, though, the waving bunny decided to touch Katie and she got this look on her face as if to say What the hell? and clung to my legs. So needless to say, I wasn't going to force her to sit on a stranger's lap.

Especially a furry, obscenely large stranger's lap.

Blogging May Have Psychological Benefits


Blogging May Have Psychological Benefits
The Discovery Channel is reporting that a study published in CyberPsychology and Behavior found that there may be some psychological benefits to blogging and/or using online communities like MySpace. The study followed about sixty people who were updating their MySpace blogs regularly. After two months of blogging these people felt more confident and more involved.
Researchers James Baker and Susan Moore have written two papers investigating the psychological benefits of blogging and regularly updating personal Web pages with information that invites others to comment.

The first, published in the latest issue of the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior, compares the mental health of people intending to blog with that of people not planning to blog.

Moore says the researchers messaged 600 MySpace users personally and directed them to an online survey. A total of 134 completed the questionnaire; 84 intended to blog and 50 didn't.

"We found potential bloggers were less satisfied with their friendships and they felt less socially integrated, they didn't feel as much part of a community as the people who weren't interested in blogging ... they were also more likely to use venting or expressing your emotions as a way of coping," Moore said.

"It was as if they were saying 'I'm going to do this blogging and it's going to help me'."

And it seemed to do the trick, as the researchers' second study shows.

This study, which is yet to be published, was conducted two months later. The researchers sent out questionnaires to the same group of MySpace users; this time 59 responded. Bloggers reported a greater sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people and feeling more confident they could rely on others for help.
The study found that the bloggers (technically MySpace users in this study) reported feeling "less anxious, depressed and stressed" after two months of blogging. To be fair the people going into the two month study were optimistic that blogging would help them in the first place. It is also interesting to know that there is a journal called CyberPsychology and Behavior. You can read more about the bi-monthly peer reviewed journal here.

March 08, 2008

Showing Some "T" for a "D"

My first year of college was one of the best years of my life. I absolutely loved it. I was discovering a new world and making new friends. I found the love of my life. I also met the man who would become my husband. (I wouldn't realize for a few years that I had the wrong guy in the "love of my life" position.) I got a major role in a play, which was so much fun. Everything was going extremely well.

Except one thing: I was failing Math.

Math has always been my Achilles' heel. I took the lowest level Algebra class I could take while still receiving credits. The boss on the TV show 10 Items or Less reminds me of my college math teacher in both looks and behavior. "Mr. K" was a sweet, married man and the youngest professor I would ever have. At some point, I realized I could act like a clown in class, asking funny questions and teasing Mr. K in an attempt to distract him enough to waste some math-related class time. It worked. In my humorous attempts, though, I was also trying to understand what was going on so I could pass. I would even stay after class sometimes, mainly in order to show him I was trying. We developed a weird connection. Could it be? I had a crush on my math professor! (Before that, my high school drama teacher had a thing for me and we even dated a few times. Psychoanalyse that.)

One afternoon, I was sitting by myself in the common area. It was a beautiful day and I was enjoying the weather while reading a book.

"Kelly! Shouldn't you be studying your math?" Mr. K yelled out from a nearby table, teasing me in an authoritarian tone. He had a huge smile on his face and I could tell he thought he was being very funny.

"Uh, no. It's not 11:15 yet. I only think about math during class," I sarcastically teased back.

"Maybe that's your problem! Come sit over here and we'll go over your work."

I looked back down and smirked. "If you want to talk to me, Professor, you'll have to come sit over here!" I looked back up, flashed a smile, and he blushed.

A moment later, he was sitting on the bench next to me. We chatted about the weather and then he asked me if I had any trouble with my homework. I refused to talk math since we weren't in class, telling him so. (I wasn't kidding about not thinking about math.) I got weird looks from passing students. Talking to a professor here must look weird, I thought.

"Well, I'll see you later on in class," he said, giggling.

As I watched him walk away I found myself wishing he weren't married, even though I couldn't imagine that we would have ever had enough in common. But there was an undeniable chemistry between us and I'm sure he felt it, too. I would have never acted upon it and that's maybe what made it fun.

I put my head down to return to my book. To my horror, the top three buttons of my dress were undone...undone far enough that my pink bra was showing. So exposed, in fact, Janet Jackson would have felt bad for me. I was so embarrassed!

However, I DID get a "D" in the class (enough to pass and receive credits), even though I failed every freaking test. I can't say it was definitively the pink bra. I like to think it was my tenacious attempt to pass by working hard.


I transferred to another campus the next year, leaving Mr. K and the pink bra incident behind. A few years later I was shopping with my mom. I was by myself in the paper towel aisle, standing on my toes trying to reach a certain package (I'm picky). With my back turned, I heard someone very close whisper, "Do you recommend any certain kind?" I turned to see Mr. K and his sweet smile.

I tried to make some lame math-related joke about the ply times the sheets per roll divided by cost, but he just smiled. We talked for a while and then he said he had to go. "It was great to see you," he said, giving me a hug.

When I rejoined my mom at the end of the aisle, she said, "Who was that? Did you guys date or something?"

"No..." I sighed.

March 07, 2008

When You Care Enough to Send...

I forgot to check the mail yesterday, even though it was Entertainment Weekly day. (That's the best mail day!) I guess I just got busy. So Dan brought the mail in when he got home, exclaiming, "Someone sent you a package!" as he set the mail on the counter.

"A package? What is it?" I asked, excitedly hurrying to see. Dan gave me a look as if to say how would I know what's in this completely sealed package, but I ignored him as I looked at the return address. It was from an old friend from high school with whom I recently reconnected.

I ripped the paper and inside was a box of Girl Scout cookies with a note that said: "Just a little something to get you through the winter!" The sweetness and spontaneity of it touched me deeply.

There's something about snail mail that could never be matched with email. I have always been a sucker for stationary products. I used to spend hours looking at stationary, stickers, pencils, erasers, etc. when I would go to the store with my parents. I would admire all of the various things and occasionally I would be allowed to get something new for school. (In fifth grade, erasers were the equivalent to a new pair of Jimmy Choo's.)

Unfortately, personal touches are lost in an Internet world. An e-card is nice, but it could never replace the excitement of opening a paper card (from someone you like, mind you). And unlike people who send things because they think they have to, I got a package because someone was just thinking of me. That's it. And even though the box of cookies might not last very long, the thought of someone caring enough to send them will last a long time.

March 01, 2008

We Care About Heath

Although Heath Ledger has been dead for more than a month, he appeared in my dream the other night. My brain must be backed up. I tend to dream of things that were mentioned in passing during the day. (For some reason, though, I cannot seem to dream of Christian Bale--try as I might.) I've heard it said that we deal with our darkest feelings in our dreams and "nightmares" are actually good for us. But more about Heath...

I first heard of Heath Ledger in 1999 when he starred in "Ten Things I Hate About You." The soundtrack to that movie rocks. I'm usually interested in Shakespeare-related things, so I checked it out and liked it. I then saw Heath in "The Patriot," all the while not thinking much of it. But "Heath" would come back to bite me a short time later.

I started working for a very well-known publishing company in 2002 as a Copyeditor. One day my boss called me into her office. "Look at this," she said sternly, while handing me a magazine.

I looked at the ad closely, reading the small type at the bottom. "You can get 12 issues for..." blah, blah, blah.

"Do you see anything wrong with it?" She interrupted, suddenly angry.

"Ummmm...." Unfortunately, nothing stuck out in the small paragraph I was quickly scanning. Perhaps the pricing was wrong?

"How about the misspelled word on the top?"

My eyes darted to the top. In large, bright letters was the word HEATH. The huge type should have read health. And considering that the magazine was solely focused on health, it was a big blunder. It ended up reading something like, "We care about Heath!"

I'm still not sure that my eyes were the last to see it before it went out, but I was blamed for the millions of people who would scoff at the misspelling...for everyone who would doubt the magazine's credibility...for everyone who wouldn't renew their subscriptions...

Through it all, though, I couldn't help but think of Heath Ledger. Did I see his name and subconsciously think the word was spelled correctly? Spell check wouldn't have caught the misspelling because heath is also a noun meaning a tract of open and uncultivated land; a wasteland overgrown with shrubs.

Ironically, that job would become a wasteland for me. Although I never really liked it, some tragic personal issues would soon completely interfere with my ability to keep interest in being productive at the job. I would be laid off more than a year later (because of cut-backs, not because of heath) and I was probably one of the only people to ever leave smiling and laughing with joy while carrying my little box of possessions...and some extra paper clips.